Friday, 18 March 2016

Walthamstow Wetlands Newsletter


Welcome to the Walthamstow Wetlands Newsletter!

  • Editorial
  • Wildlife corner
  • Walthamstow Wetlands works in progress: reedbeds
  • Volunteering at Walthamstow Wetlands
  • Upcoming events
  • About London Wildlife Trust
  • Contact us
Hello, and a warm welcome to the first edition of the Walthamstow Wetlands E-newsletter! I’m Rachel, the Community Engagement Officer for Walthamstow Wetlands.

I am really pleased to announce that work is now starting on the project’s major building works. The contractorsRooff are currently working on the main Forest Road entrance, the boardwalk and the car park area. In the next few weeks they will start transforming the Engine House into a fantastic visitor centre and cafĂ©.

Keep checking our website  for future guided tours of the site. Now that the weather is improving we will be starting a programme of specialist walks with guides who are experts in their field. This will include local history and heritage, wetland wildfowl and more of the bat walks that were so popular last year.  If you are involved in a local community organisation or school and would like a tour of the site please contact me

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the community engagement team of volunteers who have worked so hard on behalf of the project and have produced this newsletter. I really hope you enjoy it!
Walthamstow Wetlands works in progress: reedbeds
© Stephen Ayers
Since October, dredging and reedbed construction work has been taking place in Reservoirs 1, 2 and 3. This work is nearing its end now and is due to be completed by the end of March.

The bioengineering work being conducted by Salix River & Wetland Services Ltd. will create 2.4 hectares of new reedbeds. They will also dredge the silt from the bottom of reservoirs 1, 2 and 3, which had become shallow due to the build-up of silt over the years, using diggers on floating pontoons and pump-dredging.

The dredging and new reedbeds (which will absorb excess nutrients and pollutants), will improve the water quality and hence the biodiversity in the water and therefore the fishing in the reservoirs. The reedbeds will also provide better protection for the fish eggs and juvenile fish which will protect them from being predated by the cormorants.

Silt retention systems (underwater fences), have been created using wooden stakes and special netting called nicospan and they can now be seen marking out where the new reedbeds will be. The silt is deposited into these fenced off areas in order to build the new reedbeds. The reeds have been grown in Salix's Norfolk nursery and they will be planted into the new reedbeds later this month. It will take 5 - 10 years before the new reedbeds are fully developed.

The new reedbeds will greatly increase the amount of wildlife habitats and the diversity of the species that will live in those habitats, such as amphibians, invertebrates, mammals and birds. Birds like reed bunting, reed warbler, bearded tits and bittern will be attracted to visit and in due course, perhaps breed in the reedbeds. The work will also create shallow waters, which will favour the herons and help them to compete for food with the cormorants.

For further details about the reedbed construction work, see this recent blog post on the Walthamstow Wetlands Blog 

Stephen Ayres
Volunteering at Walthamstow Wetlands
Ella Rothero is one of our Community Engagement Volunteers.

Up until about a year ago I was working as a sound editor for a post-production company based in Soho, editing dialogue for various television programmes and films. Although I really enjoyed my time as a sound editor, I began to realise that I wanted to spend less time in dark windowless studios and more time outdoors engaging with the natural world and in the end decided to leave in order to pursue a career in nature conservation.

I am now doing an MSc in Conservation at University College London and wanted to complement my studies with some experience in the real world of nature conservation. I have spent the last two years volunteering on various projects including community engagement on Hampstead Heath and becoming a learning volunteer at London Zoo, but there is something particularly exciting about the Walthamstow Wetlands project that made me really want to get involved: it is truly an urban wetland and one which Londoners rely on as much as the wildlife for a clean water supply. I find this aspect of the site really fascinating and this project offers an exciting chance to explore how we can better balance human needs with the needs of other animals.

My role as a community engagement volunteer has given me the chance to develop a variety of skills, ranging from learning to use programs such as Excel to helping to organise events such as a volunteer training day. It has also been an amazing opportunity to become properly acquainted with Walthamstow Wetlands and I am especially enjoying helping out on the guided walks. I have also had the chance to meet so many passionate and knowledgeable people, especially other volunteers, who have taught me so much about the reservoirs and nature conservation more generally. One of my favourite moments has been seeing and hearing my first noctule bat during one of the bat walks last summer.

Ella Rothero
© Penny Dixie
If you are interested in volunteering come along to our Volunteer Roadshow on Sat 12th March 2pm-4pm at Walthamstow Wetlands to find out how you can get involved. For more information please email
© Stephen Ayers

Wildlife corner: grey heron

Grey herons are one of the iconic species of Walthamstow Wetlands. They can be seen throughout the year and because they are large and they stand, or perch in one place for a long time, visitors can have a good look at them.

Herons can be seen on Reservoirs 1, 2 and 3, in the Coppermill Stream, on the island of East Warwick, at the southern end of Low Maynard and elsewhere around the Wetlands.

Although they can regularly be seen, their size, their long bills, elegant necks and in winter their elaborate plumage always makes them an awe-inspiring spectacle.

At present, the herons are resplendent in their winter plumage, which they will moult in the summer. They are somewhat reminiscent of their pterodactyl ancestors, with their vast wingspan, reptilian toes and the range of prehistoric sounds they make, from rasping caws to guttural croaks and wheezing cackles.

The islands at Walthamstow Wetlands, support a regionally important breeding colony of herons who are said to have moved to Walthamstow from Wanstead Park in the 1930s.

You can currently see many massive and impressively constructed heron nests, filling the tree canopies of the islands of Reservoirs 1, 'The Heronry' and Reservoir 2.
© Stephen Ayers
This 1951 amateur film entitled 'Herons on Walthamstow Reservoir' includes footage of heron chicks in the nest:

Written by Stephen Ayers, Walthamstow Wetlands Community Engagement Volunteer

You can see more of Stephen's videos on his blog and follow Stephen on Twitter @Walthamsteve.

Upcoming events

Sat 12th Volunteer Roadshow2pm-4pm

Sun 13th Walthamstow Wetlands Guided Walk 10am-12pm

Wed 23rd Walthamstow Wetlands Guided Walk (for the Mayor of London Festival) 10am-12pm


Sun 10th Walthmastow Wetlands Guided Walk 10am-12pm

Sun 17th
 Walthamstow Wetlands Bird Tour (North site)10am-12pm


Sun 29th Publicity Stand at Tottenham Ploughman RiverFest(Lordship Recreation Ground, Harringey)10am-12pm 


London Wildlife Trust is a charity dedicated to protecting the capital’s wildlife and wild spaces and engaging London’s diverse communities through access to our nature reserves, campaigning, volunteering and outdoor learning.

London Wildlife Trust currently manages over 40 nature reserves in London, but Walthamstow Wetlands will be the largest project we have ever delivered.

London Wildlife Trust has worked hard for many years to generate interest and support for the Walthamstow Wetlands project and we are very proud to see this wonderful site being improved for wildlife and opened up for local people’s enjoyment, free of charge.

Find out more about London WIldlife Trust at

Contact us
Email: Rachel Smith,Walthamstow Wetlands Community Engagement officerat

The London Wildlife Trust is part of a network of 47 local Wildlife Trusts across the UK, working under the umbrella of The Wildlife Trust Partnership, the UK’s leading conservation charity dedicated to wildlife protection.

Registered Office: Dean Bradley House, 52 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 2AF. A company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales, Number 1600379. Registered as a charity in England and Wales, Number 283895

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